Sunday, July 25We Break the News

US House to vote to repeal Iraq war authorisation

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Symbolic vote expected later this week as lawmakers and Joe Biden seek to revise and update legal basis for US military action.

The US Congress is revisiting its 2002 authorisation of war used to justify the invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein [Erin Scott/Reuters]
The US Congress is revisiting its 2002 authorisation of war used to justify the invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein [Erin Scott/Reuters]

The United States House of Representatives will vote later this week to repeal the authorisation of war that Congress gave to former President George W Bush in 2002 enabling the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The motion to repeal the Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq, coming for the first time with support from President Joe Biden, is expected to be taken up in the House on Thursday, CNN reported.

The Biden administration said on Monday that the US “has no ongoing military activities that rely solely on the 2002 AUMF as a domestic legal basis” and its repeal “would likely have minimal impact on current military operations”.

But the upcoming vote is seen as a start in a larger debate in the US Congress about revising and re-establishing the US legal basis for the deployment of military forces in Iraq and elsewhere in what congressional critics call the “forever wars”.

“The President is committed to working with the Congress to ensure that outdated authorizations for the use of military force are replaced with a narrow and specific framework appropriate to ensure that we can continue to protect Americans from terrorist threats,” the White House said in a statement on Monday supporting the House repeal.

However, without a replacement authorisation that addresses modern-day circumstances in Iraq, repeal of the US law faces scepticism from legislators in the Senate, which also must agree for the House resolution to take effect.

“The 2002 AUMF was largely about Saddam Hussein, it is also clearly used to address terrorist threats in and emanating from Iraq,” said Representative Michael McCaul.

“Unless we hear from our military that the 2002 AUMF no longer serves the purpose of protecting Americans, we should not repeal before replacing,” said McCaul, a Republican.

The issue came to the fore most recently with the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani by US forces on Iraqi soil, an act many members of Congress viewed as unjustified and reckless. The Trump administration later cited the 2002 Iraq war authorisation as legal justification for the Soleimani hit.

US and NATO troops invaded Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attacks and the former Bush administration then pushed for and obtained authorisation from Congress to invade Iraq in a preemptive war to topple Saddam Hussein and prevent Iraq from obtaining weapons of mass destruction.The Bush administration’s pretext for invading Iraq was later shown to be based on false claims and former President Barack Obama agreed to withdraw most US forces from Iraq in 2011.

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